THE CAPACITY TO ENJOY
by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 18 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Blue Denim and Lace)
Recently while sharing with some others a happy time, I said, "Isn't it a wonderful thing to have the capacity for enjoyment?" Many people have never developed such. Their enjoyment is always accompanied by a dissatisfaction because of its brevity, and overemphasis of its liability, or one of a thousand different complexes that immune people from having fun. There are several things that one can do to enhance his chances for enjoyment and to develop a capacity for the same.
1. Remember that everything is relative. What can be an enjoyment to one can be a drudgery to another depending upon the plateau of life in which he lives. Two people can eat the same meal. One can enjoy it; the other cannot because one is accustomed to a better standard of living than the other. Hence, it is vitally important for us to compare our present experiences with our darker days rather than our brighter ones. If there were no darkness, there could be no light. If there were no hot, there could be no cold. If there were no low, there could be no high. How high something is depends upon the thing with which we compare it. If one having a usual experience of life, he can compare it with the best day he ever had and mourn, or he can compare it with the worst day he ever had and rejoice. Since most everything is relative, one should compare an experience with lesser ones that he has had and find joy in what he is doing.
2. Learn to rejoice in sorrow. The Apostle Paul said that he gloried in his tribulations. The Psalmist said, "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." So there is a way that a person can be happy in both joy and sorrow. When we are sharing a joyful experience, we are of necessity happy; but when we share a sorrowful experience, we can rejoice in that a tear today is an investment for a laugh tomorrow.
There are other compensations in sorrow. One draws closer to the Lord in such hours. Friends who share life's dark hours become better friends. One's happiness will not be determined upon how happy he is his happiest day, but how happy he is his saddest day. It is not the height of the mountains but the height of the valleys that determines joy and happiness. Let us learn to rejoice in our sorrows and count them as investments for rejoicing tomorrow.
3. One should develop a variety of enjoyments. Many people have to be hearing jokes to be happy. To be sure, good clean humor is a part of fun, but it is certainly far from all of it, and it is even far from being the most important part of it.
What can beat the enjoyment of a serious conversation when two people share ideas and when two minds meet at a common denominator? Unfortunate is the one for whom the spectacular is necessary for fun.
Recently a group of Christians were on a bus trip together. They had had some spectacular enjoyment. They had laughed until they cried. They had a lot of loud, wonderful, happy fun, but as the trip was nearing its end, it was suggested that everyone sing. They found themselves singing some of the old songs: "When I Was Seeing Nelly Home," "Bicycle Built for Two," "Down by the Old Mill Stream," "Dixie," "Back Home Again in Indiana," etc. This fun was no less real just because it was less spectacular. It simply meant that they found more than one way of having fun. Some remembered the old days of finding fun in the simple things like popping popcorn, making fudge, pulling taffy, etc.
It must be remembered that the more the variety of enjoyment the more people we can enjoy. When we find fun in many areas, we can enjoy many more people than if we limit ourselves to one area in the search of fun. More important than this, however, is the fact that more people can enjoy you if your fun is varied. People will not have to adapt themselves to you, but you can adapt yourself to them. You can enter into their level of fun and enjoyment and find enjoyment as well as give it. Where is the fun of reading a book, sharing a simple conversation, taking a walk in the park together, or driving around as a family group? "Ah, that is dull," you say. Yes, this is because fun is relative and comparative. This busy, herky-jerky world can only find fun in the fast and furious, the wrong and restless, the big and busy, and in so doing robs itself of many areas of enjoyment. This means that if we find fun only in an isolated area of life, we have to be doing one particular thing to find enjoyment and fun. If we have developed a varied appetite for pleasure, we can find ourselves enjoying just that many different types of experiences and events. To the person who has learned this, whether it be the kids' ballgame on the corner lot, a quiet evening with the family, a Sunday School picnic, a simple conversation with a friend, or a wild time of humor at a party, life affords many more joys, happiness, pleasures and fun than to the person who has become a specialist find finding pleasure in only one area of life.
4. Remember from past experiences the recipe for fun. Many times my wife will say while in the home of another lady, "Could I have the recipe for that cake?" The lady has it ready, for she remembers the recipe for successful ventures. The same things can be applied to life. When a person has a good time, he should make a written list of the ingredients. Hence, he has a recipe for fun and enjoyment that he may do it again and again and again, and even share it with others. Far too many of us have a wonderful experience or a delightful time not realizing the ingredients that made it so. Then the next delightful time will have to be by accident when conditions just happen to be right. If, however, one could sit down at the close of a happy time and list its ingredients, he could ":stir" himself a happy time with the proper ingredients, just as he could stir himself a cake like he had before. This is a vital part of developing a capacity for enjoyment.
We must remember that the more we have enjoyed, the less we can enjoy if we are careless. If, for example, life is composed of one hundred enjoyments, then each time we have such an enjoyment we have one less, that is, unless we learn to create enjoyments ourselves. In this way the same pleasure can be enjoyed over and over again. We must not let the acquiring of more mature enjoyments and pleasures keep us from re- experiencing the old ones. Let us not trade one pleasure for another but rather, add one pleasure to another. Keep the ability to enjoy the last pleasure while developing the ability to enjoy the new one or else the cultivating of new enjoyments becomes simply another step in a search for something that cannot be found. How much better it would be if the cultivation of a new enjoyment could simply be the addition of a new dimension to a happiness already found. 5. The good time of others should always be considered. As a pastor this is very vital to me. I must always be measuring the enjoyment level of others so as to see to it that they have fun, joy, and satisfaction at various activities. I must not use my humor just to demonstrate that I am the life of the party, but rather I must be unselfish in my humor and think of the enjoyment of another. Humor is not something to be exhibited, demonstrated, or applauded, but rather it is another of the God-given talents which can be used to make another happy. Used properly and unselfishly it can be a great tool for others. Used carelessly and unwisely it could become a weapon against others.
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